Volleyball wins home tourney

By Mike Romor

The Huskie Invitational was the last chance for volleyball to get on the right track before starting a long conference season.

NIU emerged as the champion, winning nine out of 10 sets along the way. To open up the weekend, NIU (8-6) played a doubleheader on Friday against George Washington and IPFW.

NIU came out strong against George Washington (5-8) and never looked back for the rest of the weekend. Offensively, the Huskies were nearly perfect, hitting .295 with three Huskies hitting .300 or better.

The offense was on point under the command of sophomore setter Alexis “Pookie” Gonzalez, who finished the opening match of the weekend with 37 assists.

“I thought Pookie did a great job running the offense,” said head coach Ray Gooden. “She was very accurate with her sets and found the right girl to get the best possible play going. She did a great job running the show for us and that helped us out a lot.”

The Huskies hit an obstacle in their second match of the day. The obstacle was only one dropped set.

The dropped second set of its match against IPFW (7-8) marked the first time this season NIU has lost a second set but won the match.

Despite dropping a set, NIU hit an outstanding .308, the team’s best performance of the season. NIU was led by senior middle blocker Sarah Angelos, who had one of the best statistical performances of her NIU career.

Angelos finished with a career-high 18 kills and a remarkable .417 hitting percentage.

Junior outside hitter Mackenzie Roddy once again played strong for the Huskies. After finishing with a season-best .394 hitting percentage and 16 kills in the first match of the day, Roddy tallied another 17 kills while also digging 17 balls.

Gonzalez had another strong match quarterbacking the Huskie attack, finishing with 50 assists, compared to IPFW’s 49 total assists. Gonzalez also finished with 10 digs.

NIU’s back row played excellent in the match as well, with four Huskies reaching double-digit digs. Freshman Mary Grace Kelly, who finished with 11 kills, set a new career-high with 15 digs, while libero Justine Schepler picked up 12 digs.

The Huskies seemed to not be hampered by a quick turnaround, having to play Oakland University the morning after the


NIU pummeled Oakland (6-8) for its second sweep of the weekend in a match that could have been a challenge.

“If we’re going to play for a championship in November, there’s going to be a match that night at 7 and a championship the next day at 2 o’clock,” Gooden said. “So we have to be able to do that and I know that’s a long ways away, but that’s what these tournaments are for.”

NIU put together its third consecutive strong offensive output, hitting .283 while Gonzalez reached 35 assists and added two service aces.

Freshman Jenna Radtke finished off a solid weekend with 10 kills while hitting .333 and posting two solo blocks.

Junior Emily Paschke contributed greatly in the match, hitting .500 with five kills and two solo blocks.

Schepler notched a match-high 14 digs and freshman defensive specialist Paige Dacanay posted eight digs.